Gators Come Up Short Against FSU, 6-4

Two times he came up with runners in scoring position and a chance to extend a Florida rally. Two times he hit the ball about as hard as it could be hit. If the ball goes a foot to the left or a foot to the right then Gavin Dickey is Tuesday night's hero and not the guy shaking his head, wondering what he has to do to get a hit in clutch situations.

"It's frustrating that I'm not getting in runs for my team," said Dickey after hitting into two rally-killing double plays that factored mightily into Florida State's 6-4 win over the Gators before a crowd of 4,601 at McKethan Stadium. "I had opportunities to hit some balls to score some runners tonight and I didn't do the job. That's basically what it boils down to."

Dickey blamed himself for Florida's third loss in four games but Florida Coach Pat McMahon knows that if Dickey keeps hitting the ball so hard that it's just a matter of time before he gets his share of big hits.

"That's one of the great things about this wonderful game but one of the frustrating things," said McMahon whose sixth-ranked Gators dropped to 8-4. "Your goal is to hit the ball very hard and over the long haul the percentages will win out."

Dickey hit a laser at FSU shortstop Buster Posey in the fifth inning that was converted into an inning-ending double play. Trailing 4-1, the Gators got a rally going when Brandon McArthur singled and Stephen Barton was hit by a pitch. A sharp single to right by Adam Davis drove McArthur home and sent Barton to third but the double play ended the threat.

Down 6-2 in the seventh, pinch-hitter Avery Barnes dropped a bunt between the mound and first base that FSU's Dennis Guinn threw past pitcher Tyler Chambliss who was covering the bag. McArthur followed with a walk and Barton singled to right to load the bases. When Davis was hit by a pitch to bring in Barnes, the Seminoles brought in Brent Marsh to face Dickey. Dickey teed off on a Marsh fast ball but again, there was no gap to be found. Tony Taylor took the one-hop rocket and flipped to Posey to start another rally-killing double play.

"He hit the balls as good as you could hit them," said McMahon.

"I'll take the blame," said Dickey. "I had opportunities to drive in runs for my team and I let them down."

Florida would add one more run in the eighth when Austin Pride hit the first home run of his Florida career off Marsh.

The Gators got off to a good start, manufacturing a run in the first inning when Davis singled and moved to second when Dickey's grounder to short was booted. Brian LeClerc's single to left brought home Davis with the game's first run but Chambliss settled down to get Pride and Brian Jeroloman on grounders to end the threat.

Florida State couldn't get anything going the first three innings off Florida starter Kris Gawriluk. Gawriluk got an inning-ending double play in the second inning and in the third got help from Dickey in center field who robbed Danny Diaz of a hit with a spectacular diving catch.

Guinn evened the game at 1-1 in the fourth with a two-out home run to left field and in the fifth, the Seminoles finally began to solve Gawriluk. A single by Thomas, a walk to Mark Gildea and a double to left center field by Diaz put the Seminoles ahead, 3-1. When Shane Robinson followed with a walk, McMahon brought in lefty David Hurst to replace Gawriluk.

"I got a little tired after awhile and I made some mistakes," said Gawriluk. "You can't make mistakes against good teams. I feel good about the first three innings but I have a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth because of the fourth and the fifth."

Hurst gave up a run-scoring single to center before he got Ryne Malone on an infield fly rule pop-up. Josh Edmondson came on to get Guinn on a tapper back to the mound to end the inning.

Edmondson gave up a sixth inning two-run homer to Taylor that was followed by a couple of singles. That brought on Steven Porter to end the threat. Porter got one out in the seventh before he was relieved by Darren O'Day who set the final eight FSU batters down in order.

There were positives for the Gators who played their fourth straight game without All-American first baseman Matt LaPorta. LaPorta strained an oblique muscle last week against Florida A&M and his status for the weekend series against Texas A&M at McKethan Stadium remains doubtful.

Florida committed nine errors in the Pepsi Baseball Classic over the weekend but the Gators were sharp in the field against FSU. In addition to Dickey's diving catch, Davis turned in a spectacular play in the top of the ninth when he ranged into center field to nab a bouncer by Jack Rye. Davis did a complete 360 and threw a strike to Pride at first to nail Rye in a bang-bang play.

"I thought our approach defensively was better but we still have some holes to fill," said McMahon, who started Brandon McArthur at third base and Matt Gaski at second. Both have had some shaky moments in the field recently, but they both turned in nice plays in the field. David Cash turned in an outstanding play at third base in the ninth.

Florida produced eight hits and plenty of hard hit balls off the FSU pitching staff, a good sign after Sunday's loss to Wake Forest. It's obvious that Florida's offense is still suffering without the big bat of LaPorta, last year's NCAA home run champ. Since nobody wants to give LaPorta anything good to hit, that creates power opportunities for the players in front and behind him in the lineup. Without his presence, the Gators are going to have to work to manufacture runs until he returns from the injury. Until that time, the Gators are in a struggle.

"Good clubs find a way and we're not a good club yet," said McMahon. "We're working hard to be one and I really believe in our guys."

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